Advance Notice: Briefs

Rep. Slagh missed 62 votes last year due to previously undisclosed COVID diagnosis

By: and - January 5, 2022 3:56 pm

Rep. Bradley Slagh | House GOP photo

State Rep. Bradley Slagh (R-Zeeland) announced Tuesday that his absence from 62 votes at the end of 2021 can be attributed to contracting COVID-19. The announcement comes after the Missed Votes Report released by the free-market Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s highlighted those missed votes. 

The report showed that Slagh missed all votes that took place in the House from Dec. 7 to Dec. 14. In a press release released Tuesday, Slagh announced he had been quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19. Slagh said he takes his role as representing Ottawa County “very seriously” and had not missed a single vote before contracting COVID-19. 

“I had a perfect voting record going into the last two weeks of House session when I unfortunately tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” Slagh said. “In keeping with House protocol, as well as CDC guidelines, I fulfilled the required days of quarantine. As I had no choice but to stay home from Lansing for the last week of session, I sadly missed 62 votes.”

He did not indicate if he had been vaccinated against COVID or received a booster shot.

Slagh had previously not announced that he had COVID-19 until this week’s press release — issued about a month later. 

In September, the Legislature passed Slagh-sponsored legislation that would ban Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from using an emergency response system to alert the public of pandemic health orders. However, while Whitmer did alert residents four times in 2020, she used the integrated public alert and warning system (IPAWS) that wasn’t included in HB 4061. Whitmer vetoed the bill.

Slagh joined a group of eight representatives and two senators who missed more than 50 votes in 2021. In the House of Representatives, state Rep. Steve Marino (R-Harrison Twp.) — who had been accused of domestic abuse by Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham) — missed the most, being absent from 232 votes. 

In the Senate, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) missed the most, being absent from 118 votes. In February, she acknowledged taking maternity leave could hurt her politically but defended the decision as an important one. In November, both she and her baby contracted COVID.

“This is a political risk. I know that. If I miss a vote in-person, expect it to be an attack ad against me in 2022. But are we okay with the message that working moms cannot be legislators? That we don’t want anyone in office who understands being a parent or caretaker?” McMorrow tweeted.

Throughout both chambers, only 14 senators and 44 representatives did not miss a single vote this year. 

Within both Michigan chambers, 38 senators and 110 representatives were absent for a total of  2,260 roll call votes in 2021. 

In the Legislature, lawmakers often miss multiple votes due to family, health or personal reasons. Legislators also sometimes do not vote on a piece of legislation if they have a conflict of interest or if they have been needed off the floor for other legislative processes. 

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Julia Forrest
Julia Forrest

Julia Forrest is a contributor to the Michigan Advance. She has been covering Michigan and national politics for two years at the Michigan Daily and OpenSecrets. She studies public policy at the University of Michigan.

Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 22-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQ+ people, the state budget, the economy and more. She previously served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 90 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 5,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 80 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two kids along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.